Homeland security at PSU

Images of X-Files-style government agents in black suits are evoked by Willamette Week’s feature article 퀌�Doomsday University,퀌� which discusses the Critical Decision Institute (Volume 29, Issue 46, September 17, 2003).

Upon closer inspection, such visions of a cloak and dagger campus may be an overstatement.

The Critical Decision Institute’s (CDI) goal is to help leaders from state and municipal governments practice dealing with emergencies ranging from train wrecks to terrorist attacks. CDI, a project initiated by former Portland Police Chief Mark Kroeker and presided over by Ron Tammen, director of the PSU Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, is to be funded by and affiliated with the Department of Homeland Security.

It is also looking for a home; potentially Portland State University.

Supported by Senators Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden as well as PSU and Oregon Health and Science University Presidents Daniel Bernstine and Peter Kohler, CDI seems to have gained favor where it needs it most, WW reported. Both senators were unavailable for comment due to weather problems on the east coast.

However, despite the involvement of several key supporters, plans are far from firm, Tammen said.

The Institute could potentially rent space from PSU or find space in the South Waterfront / Macadam project area, he explained. In consideration of the Institute퀌_s home, no decision has been finalized. The CDI board is waiting to decide until they have secured funding from the Homeland Defense Appropriations bill.

퀌�The bill has not passed in congress,퀌� said Tammen. Currently, CDI has a congressional delegation in Washington pushing the bill, and, 퀌�we should know in a week,퀌� he said.

Dan Jarmen, a pro-bono lobbyist for the project in Washington DC, explained that while the Department of Homeland Security has several million 퀌�discresionary dollars퀌� from the 2003 fiscal year to spend how they see fit, including granting funds to CDI, the Homeland Defense Appropriations bill is an attempt to gain additional funding for the 2004 fiscal year, beginning October 1.

Assuming CDI receives government funding, Tammen’s long-term vision is for emergency planners to be accredited through PSU.

Nohad Toulan, Dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs, said he has 퀌�not seen any academic program being developed to address home security needs.퀌�

For an academic program on homeland security to exist at the College of Urban and Public Affairs, approval must first be sought from Dean Toulan, according to university rules.

Toulan listed the bodies required to approve new programs after receiving his blessing.

퀌�They (new academic programs) go forward to Academic Affairs, university senate, and if they entail new degrees, to the state Board of Higher Education.퀌�

Toulan said he would 퀌�approve or reject programs based on many criteria that include, among many others, student demand, faculty resources, academic viability, compliance with the mission of the college and the university.퀌�

If the CDI 퀌�decides to enter into agreement with the college in the areas of training and research we will examine those agreements on their own merits,퀌� Toulan said.

The Dean concluded 퀌�I will have no problem approving such agreements so long as they comply with the College and University rules, including the fact we do not engage in secret research whose findings cannot be published.퀌�